Getting out of your “safety zone” can be difficult at any age but it’s particularly hard for seniors. So many of us are locked into the same old way of thinking that has sustained us for years. “It’s worked for me this long, why change now?” is our mantra. We find it comforting and we resist anything that rocks our security boat. We tend to stick to people our own age and who think like we do. Even those of us who join clubs or are church goers tend to only go to those that agree with our (usually pretty rigid) ideas.
All fine and good but have you ever considered the alternative? What if we took a risk and ventured where we’d never gone before? What would we gain and would it be worth the trouble? I can only answer with a resounding “YES !”
My own journey started when my loving family saw that I was getting in trouble with alcohol and they sent me to Rehab. That was 25 years ago and at the age of 56 I found myself attending AA meetings. It was eye-opening to say the least ! I had always thought of myself as liberal thinking and non judgmental but I quickly came to see that I had been living in a vacuum …and a boring one at that. I became teachable and the more I listened and opened my heart the more I learned.
My friends today are a conglomeration of different colors, races, and ethnicities. They range in age from 17 to 87 and not a day passes that I don’t learn something new from them. Working with others puts my own concerns into perspective. My life today is full of ideas and opportunities that I didn’t even know existed when I was entombed within my self-made walls.
Of course I realize that AA is not the answer for everyone; but, there are so many other ways that we seniors can get a new lease on life. I have a friend who is in her 70’s and home-bound. She was slowly sinking into depression until she decided to take a risk. She volunteered to teach illiterates to read and now has 3 who come to her house weekly. Not only are they learning to read but they are becoming like family to her. Food, photos and love have replaced depression and she wishes she’d done it sooner.
There are hundreds of ways that we seniors can make a difference with Volunteering and often it’s the riskier ones that reap the most benefits. As Will Rogers put it, “You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes, because that’s where the fruit is.”